What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused

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About this advice

This advice is non-statutory, and has been produced to help practitioners identify child abuse and neglect and take appropriate action in response.
This advice complements Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) statutory guidance.

Who is this advice for?

This advice is for anyone whose work brings them into contact with children and families. It applies in relation to all children and young people irrespective of whether they are living at home with their families and carers or away from home. It explains the signs of abuse and neglect to look out for and the action to take if you think a child is being abused or neglected

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Guiding principles

No matter where you work, you are likely to encounter children during the course of your normal working activities. You are in a unique position to be able to observe signs of abuse or neglect, or changes in behaviour which may indicate a child may be being abused or neglected.You should make sure that you are alert to the signs of abuse and neglect, that you question the behaviour of children and parents/carers and don’t necessarily take what you are told at face value. You should make sure you know where to turn to if you need to ask for help, and that you refer to children’s social care or to the police, if you suspect that a child is at risk of harm or is immediate danger (see the section on Taking Action for further information).

You should make sure that you understand and work within the local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements that are in place in your area. In doing so, you should be guided by the following key principles:

  • children have a right to be safe and should be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect;
  • safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility;
  • it is better to help children as early as possible, before issues escalate and become more damaging; and
  • children and families are best supported and protected when there is a coordinated response from all relevant agencies.

You should not let other considerations, like the fear of damaging relationships with adults, get in the way of protecting children from abuse and neglect. If you think that referral to children’s social care is necessary, you should view it as the beginning of a process of inquiry, not as an accusation.

Additional information

Weight 0.105 kg
Dimensions 29.7 x 21 x 0.3 cm


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